Longest Yard

Movie Review by Dan Spiers

Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell
Director: Peter Segal

THE LONGEST YARD is a testosterone filled, meat based, (American) football movie, directed by Peter Segal. A remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds vehicle, it tells the story of Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler), a recently jailed pro-quarterback, forced by his warden (James Cromwell) to assemble a football team from a motley crew of fellow inmates.

But the only reason Warden Hazen wants Crewe to prepare a team is as an appetizer for his championship winning guards outfit who have to begin their new season with big games against their fiercest rivals.

It falls to Crewe, his right hand man ‘Caretaker’ (Chris Rock) and ex-coach Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds) to assemble a team able to compete against the sadistic, steroid swollen guards and defeat them in a televised game designed to showcase their inferiority.

This is a familiar story, not just because it is the second time the movie has been remade (see MEAN MACHINE), but also because it is a time worn tale of sporting heroism, bravery in the face of overwhelming odds and the power of ‘team’.

Due to this over familiarity, the success of the movie is largely down to the chemistry between the three leads. Alas, the script is hardly sparkling and extracts performances that are nothing more than perfunctory.

Sandler contributes his brand of loveable everyman, delivering lines with his normal aplomb, Chris Rock is a little subdued, getting little opportunity to showcase his caustic wit whilst Burt Reynolds has spent so much money on removing wrinkles that playing haggard proves a skin-stretched implausibility.

Of course, this movie is a very different prospect for American and European audiences. I doubt a remake of THE GREAT ESCAPE, featuring cameos from Beckham, Henry, Ronaldo and Rooney would be met with too much enthusiasm Stateside.

Sandler, Rock and Reynolds have all said how much they enjoyed making this film, it is a shame that the audience doesn’t get the chance to share in their pleasure. They may well have relived a boys own adventure, but all we relive is something seen too often before. It is banal stuff, with little to recommend it.

2 out of 6 stars

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